The Attempts of the Adversaries to Stop the Work
Using the Ploy That They Wanted to Help in the Work (4:1-3)
1 And the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity were building the temple to Jehovah the God of Israel; 2 and they came to Zerubbabel and to the chief fathers, and said to them, We would build with you; for we seek your God, as ye; and we have sacrificed to him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assyria, who brought us up hither. 3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the chief fathers of Israel said to them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build a house to our God, but we alone will build to Jehovah the God of Israel, as king Cyrus, the king of Persia, has commanded us.
Using Physical Persecution (4:4-5)
4 And the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building; 5 and they hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Using Political Influence (4:6-24)
A Manipulative Letter Written to Artaxerxes (4:6-16)
6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 7 And in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of his companions, wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in Aramaic, and interpreted in Aramaic. 8 Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king after this sort:
9 Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions, the Dinaites, and the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Shushanchites, the Dehaites, the Elamites, 10 and the rest of the peoples whom the great and noble Osnappar brought over and settled in the cities of Samaria, and the rest of the country on this side the river, and so forth. 11 This is the copy of the letter that they sent to him: To Artaxerxes the king: Thy servants the men on this side the river, and so forth. 12 Be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from thee unto us have come to Jerusalem; they are building the rebellious and the bad city, and they complete the walls and join up the foundations. 13 Be it known therefore unto the king, that, if this city be built and the walls be completed, they will not pay tribute, tax, and toll, and in the end it will bring damage to the kings. 14 Now, since we eat the salt of the palace, and it is not right for us to see the king’s injury, therefore have we sent and informed the king; 15 that search may be made in the book of the annals of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the annals and know that this city is a rebellious city, which has done damage to kings and provinces, and that they have raised sedition within the same of old time, for which cause this city was destroyed. 16 We inform the king that if this city be built and its walls be completed, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river.
Artaxerxes’ Response – Ordering the Work to Cease (4:17-22)
17 The king sent an answer to Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and the other places beyond the river:
Peace, and so forth. 18 The letter that ye sent to us has been read before me distinctly. 19 And I gave orders, and search has been made, and it has been found that this city of old time has made insurrection against the kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been raised therein. 20 And there have been mighty kings over Jerusalem, who have ruled over all beyond the river; and tribute, tax, and toll were paid to them. 21 Now give order to make these men to cease, and that this city be not built, until the order shall be given from me; 22 and take heed that ye fail not to do this: why should harm grow to the damage of the kings?
The Work is Made to Cease (4:23-24)
23 As soon as the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews, and made them cease by force and power. 24 Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem; and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.